Indie Comics Review: BLACK HAMMER: VISIONS #6
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Malachi Ward, Matthew Sheean
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Black Hammer: Visions #6: After rejecting the calls of a dark god and his rat emissary beneath the sewers of Spiral City, Cthu-Lou’s favorite television program is interrupted by an underground cult and their world-ending horror machine.
In Black Hammer: Visions #6 Cullen Bunn bring us a story of ex-villain Cthu-Lou. Cthu-Lou is a fun concept. He became a supervillain when he was chosen by a dark elder god to be its avatar. But, Lou eventually tired of the life of a supervillain and forsake his master. He has attempted to return to his former life as a plumber, but few are willing to hire a tentacle-faced plumber.
This story is set before any of his previous appearances, shortly before the birth of his daughter Louise (a.k.a. Cthu-Louise). In this story, Lou just wants to watch TV in peace, but is interrupted by the summons of his former master, “the Many-Angled One”. A once-in-an-eon alignment of the stars is about to occur, and Lou is needed to help build the “Great Machine”, allowing the Many-Angled One to begin his domination of Earth. Lou refuses, but the dark god enlists human followers to build the Great Machine anyways. This prompts Cthu-Lou to directly oppose his former master.
I enjoy stories when the saviour of mankind ends up being the person you would least suspect. Lou is not the prophesied chosen one foretold to defeat an elder god. But rather, he’s a washed-up former villain with a dead-end job, a nagging wife, and a baby on the way. But he’s the man who finds himself in the right time and place with the right knowledge and skills.
That’s the other great thing about this story. The Many-Angled One’s Great Machine is a monstrosity of pipes holding toxic mystical fluids. So, it’s not Lou’s supernatural abilities that save the day, but his skills as a plumber and his trusty toolbox instead.
Unfortunately for Lou, his heroic actions will go unsung, as he returns to his modest life and unappreciative spouse. Life goes on exactly as before for Cthu-Lou.
One of the drawbacks of many of the stories in this delightful anthology is that the reader is left wanting to read more of the character. Lou’s story is completely self-contained. There is no sense that Cthu-Lou has whole secret heroic career that beg to be brought to light. He had this one moment where he was the lynchpin of destiny, then he faded back into the background again. However, I would love to see him pop up again in future Black Hammer stories.
I really love the artwork by Malachi Ward and Matthew Sheean in this issue. The background settings are especially dark and moody, as is appropriate to the horror theme. I also like that the human characters are drawn rather realistically, yet Cthu-Lou’s appearance is slightly cartoonish – but this stylistic difference blends together smoothly without clashing.
Despite the fantastic job done in the previous issues of this anthology title, some small part of me keeps thinking that one of them’s bound to be a dud. It’s hard to believe that all these guest writers could all produce stories that are worthy additions to Lemire’s Black Hammer mythos. But somehow that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know who’s responsible for assembling this group of writers and artists, but they deserve credit for making all the right choices.
Black Hammer: Visions #6 is another winner in this fantastic series. Despite the change in creators, characters, setting, and even tone between issues, the high level of quality is stays constant. If you’re a Black Hammer fan, but decided to skip this series because Jeff Lemire isn’t writing it, you’re making a big mistake.